The Place for Expert Reading Advice

The Place for Expert Reading Advice

Reading Spotlight Blog -

Starfish Up

Hopefully, normal school operations will be returning this fall, but will your students be wilting at their desks before long?

This a simple reminder that a constant requirement for kids to sit in desks quietly hour after hour will be a difficult challenge for all, and actual torment for some.

Back from lazy or active summer vacations at the beach, at camp, in the mountains, or simply from Porchview, students have been able to stand, sit, or lie down, mostly at will, for two or more months. Many kids endured virtual instruction during the long year + of COVID, but they were able to move around in their homes more than they can in a normal classroom.

We often forget how numbing it can be to silently sit, and sit, and sit, in class, after class, after class, after class, especially if the material seems rather boring.

It will be particularly difficult after such an especially long break.

If you can’t allow students to move around freely at different times in class for a minute or so, at least encourage several 30-second, seated pauses.

The body constantly sends messages to the brain, and a small 30-second pause can positively reflect on lessons and outcomes.

Some research* indicates that simply encouraging students to sit up straight when they begin to slump in their seats actually improves task success. Good posture increases the sense that students are in control, that they can take risks, and that they will succeed if they persist. When students have a strong belief that they will be able to perform a task, they are much more likely to actually accomplish it.

In her book Presence, Amy Cuddy encourages teachers to call out, “Starfish Up!” when they see a group of wilting “starfish” in their desks.

Students can learn to follow this Starfish Up! procedure:


  • Sit up straight
  • Clasp their hands behind their chairs
  • Breathe deeply and…
  • Smile. 

Try it, especially before a test.


Also, check out Reading Spotlight’s previous post about why All Happy Students Learn Better.

Encouraging stretching and good posture can reap many rewards in the classroom.

Reading Spotlight’s unique and effective story sequencing activities also get kids moving in the classroom,

and they are fun, too.

Strega Nona Sequencing Cards

Charlotte’s Web Sequencing Cards

The Trumpet of the Swan Sequencing Cards

Teachers of older students might want to try the sequencing activity with any novel covered as a group in class.

Directions and blank sequencing cards that can be used with any novel are included in these inexpensive sets.

You can find them in the

Reading Spotlight Store

When your students begin to droop, prevent wilting by teaching and using the Starfish Up! procedure.



*This little reminder toward improving academic performance through body language was inspired

after reading the book Presence, by Amy Cuddy. Little, Brown and Company. New York. 2015.


© Reading Spotlight 2021

Here are some other interesting posts about education from my friends at TBOTEMC:

Teacher Talk

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter